The Top 4 Upper Body Strength Exercises To Improve Running 

while running predominantly relies on the legs, neglecting your upper body strength could be holding you back from achieving your full athletic potential. At One Life Personal Training, we understand that a balanced physique is vital for running success. In this detailed guide, we’ll explore the significance of upper body strength for runners and provide you with a variety of exercises to integrate into your routine.

Why Upper Body Strength Matters for Runners:

While your legs do the lion’s share of the work during running, a strong upper body contributes significantly to your overall running efficiency and performance. Let’s break down how each key upper body muscle group plays a role in your running:

  1. Latissimus Dorsi (Lats): The lats are large muscles spanning the sides of your back, extending from your hips to your shoulders. During running, strong lats aid in stabilizing your torso and arms, which helps maintain efficient arm swing mechanics. This stability translates to improved running form and reduced energy wastage, allowing you to run with greater ease and efficiency.
  2. Pectoralis Major (Pecs): The pecs, located in your chest area, are responsible for arm movement and stabilization during running. Well-developed pecs contribute to a powerful arm swing, which can help propel you forward and maintain momentum, particularly during high-intensity efforts like sprinting or hill climbs. Strengthening your pecs can also enhance your overall upper body stability, reducing the risk of fatigue-related form breakdown during long runs.
  3. Deltoids (Delts): The deltoid muscles, encompassing the shoulders, are crucial for arm movement and stability. Strong deltoids facilitate a smooth and coordinated arm swing, which is essential for maintaining balance and rhythm during running. Additionally, robust deltoids help stabilize the shoulder joint, reducing the risk of injury and enhancing overall upper body function.

Upper Body Exercises for Runners:

  1. Pull-Ups:
    • Pull-ups primarily target the lats, along with the biceps and forearms. By strengthening the lats, pull-ups enhance upper body stability and arm swing mechanics during running. This improved stability translates to better overall running efficiency and reduced energy expenditure, allowing you to maintain form and momentum over long distances.
  2. Bench Press:
    • The bench press primarily targets the pecs, along with the deltoids and triceps. By developing strength in the pecs, bench pressing improves the power and range of motion of your arm swing, which can enhance your running propulsion and overall speed. Strengthening the deltoids and triceps also contributes to greater upper body stability and endurance, essential for maintaining form during prolonged runs.
  3. Shoulder Press:
    • The shoulder press targets the deltoids, along with the triceps and upper chest. Strengthening the deltoids improves shoulder stability and mobility, which is crucial for maintaining a smooth and efficient arm swing while running. By enhancing deltoid strength, shoulder pressing can help prevent fatigue-related form breakdown and reduce the risk of shoulder injuries during running.
  4. Dumbbell Rows:
    • Dumbbell rows primarily target the lats, along with the rhomboids and rear deltoids. By strengthening the lats and supporting muscles, dumbbell rows improve upper body stability and posture, which is essential for maintaining efficient arm swing mechanics during running. Stronger lats also contribute to greater overall running efficiency and reduced risk of injury, allowing you to run with confidence and ease.

Integrating these upper body exercises into your training routine like we do at One Life will help you develop strength, stability, and endurance in your arms, shoulders, and back. Start with lighter weights and focus on mastering proper form before increasing the resistance. As your strength increases, you’ll notice improvements in your running form, efficiency, and overall performance.

Stay strong,


PS: When you’re ready here are 2 ways we can help.

1. Come workout with us! Book your FREE no sweat intro consultation here. You’ll talk with a coach and come up with a plan together.

2. Download our 4 Week Leg Strength Program here.


9 Strategies To Lose Weight Fast

Here are 9 proven weight loss strategies that you may be able to fit into your busy lifestyle. Achieving sustainable weight loss requires a multifaceted

5 Free Workouts To Improve Performance

At One Life Personal Training, we’re passionate about helping runners like you reach their full potential and conquer every stride with strength and confidence. In


Talk with a coach about your goals. Get the plan to achieve them.


Take the first step towards getting the results you want!

By providing your phone number, you agree to receive text messages from One Life Fitness & Nutrition